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The last thing that most people expect to see on a Saturday morning is 9 young people crowding on a pavement with bags and suit carriers. But on 28th June 2003 that's exactly what you would have seen, should you have been walking around Nuneaton at 0800hrs. We were up at this silly hour waiting for a coach to pick us up and take us to RAF Valley in Anglesey, North Wales, for a week on annual summer camp. Yet, typically the coach was late, and despite the time of day there were passing comments made about getting a taxi to take us there, (for comfort purposes, of course) and seeing if the local number 12 bus would could make a detour to the end of Wales.

Annual camps always mean long days, short nights, and lots of hard work, dedication, and above all the chance to meet new people. With 54 cadets, plus staff on camp, it wasn't a mammoth task to go out and meet new people, they were all there! Our camp commandant was Squadron Leader P. McCarroll also the wing P.Ed.O (physical education officer) and the camp was particularly memorable to him as it was his last camp in uniform. Also we had 1 AWO (adult warrant officer) 3 Plt Off's (pilot officers) and 3 CI's (civilian instructors) everyone had their role and together they made the camp work.

But no matter how much work the staff put in, it is always the cadets that make the camp. The uniform, the nights, the way that different squadrons seem to conflict or congregate, is what gives a camp its character. And then the NCO's…we worked under the staff and got done what they wanted done, sometimes this was more tricky than others, but we still had a good time.

Throughout the week we did a variety of activities, varied enough to keep our minds as active as possible with only 7 hours in bed at night, if that….as with every camp hardly anyone went to bed on time(so what's new). These activities included; bowling, squadron visits: 22 sqn, the Search and Rescue Unit (SAR), 208 sqn, where new pilots convert from Tucano's onto hawks, 19(F) sqn, where pilots already converted to hawks learn combat flying, and SARTU the search and rescue training unit, Drill, a night exercise, evening exercises, go karting, work experience, swimming, flying, shooting and more.

Almost everything that we did on the camp earned us points that went towards the inter-flight competition. Because of the amount of cadets on the camp we were split into 3 flights (A, B, and C) for simplicity, all activities were monitored, the amount of swimming proficiencies gained per flight were totalled and added to the scores, the drill competition gained the flights points, and the daily room inspection (on the first day a cadet that will remain un-named, dropped her pyjama bottoms into the shower, so to dry them she hung them out of the window, great initiative, but the day was windy, and by the time we returned to our block AWO Hobbins described that the base had a new ensign……pink pyjama bottoms!!)

At the end of the week, as with all annual camps, there was a disco. We had an extra hour on curfew and a later start the following morning. Really, it acts as a fun farewell to everybody that we had met on camp. Presentation of the paper cup awards is an occasion that most cadets in our wing are familiar with, they are brought together by the cadet SNCO's (senior non-commissioned officers) and some members of staff, they are, basically, a fun way to say how we will remember everyone on the camp. The final song was the 'RAF song' as it was described by the airman acting as DJ for the night, 'Build me up buttercup' everyone was on the dance floor, acting like fools, but having a great time.

The following morning we were woken up at 0630hrs and had 45minutes to pack all of our kit and get ready to go home, but not before a final breakfast in the JRM (junior ranks mess) and the announcement of the winners of the inter-flight competition drill competition and other things that had been running throughout the week.

We loaded our kit onto the coach, loaded ourselves onto the coach and departed; ahead of us was a 4hour journey to return home. Many people fell asleep but for others it was a chance to get phone numbers, e-mail addresses and home addresses to keep in contact with the friends that they had met, all thanks to the ATC (air training corps).

I thoroughly enjoyed the camp, and would recommend annual camp to anyone in the ATC.

Article Submitted by:-
Cdt FS B Slade - 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron
04 Nov 03

RAF Valley's position on the Isle of Anglesey made is ideally suited for its dual role of fighter base, protecting Liverpool and the North West, and ferry airfield, operating transport flights across the Atlantic. In 1957, Valley became a training base, and is now one of the most important. The largest unit based at Valley is No 4 Flying Training School, which operates 71 Hawk T1/T1A aircraft, and incorporates the Central Flying School Advanced Training Unit. Valley is also home to "C" Flight of No 22 Squadron equipped with 2 Sea King HAR3s for Search and Rescue duties, and the Search and Rescue Training Unit, which operates 3 Griffin HT1s.

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